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Lester Dent's Zeppelin Tales
Lester Dent
Heliograph, 154 pages (read as PDF)

Lester Dent's Zeppelin Tales
Lester Dent
Born in 1904 in La Plata, Missouri, Lester Dent was a prolific pulp writer, best known under the house name Kenneth Robeson, under which he wrote most of the immensely popular and influential Doc Savage novels (originally as 181 issues of Doc Savage Magazine from 1933 to 1949). His first published story "Pirate Cay" appeared in the September 1929 issue of Top Notch Magazine. Soon after Dent was contacted (at $500/month) by Dell Publishing in New York City,if he would write exclusively for their magazines. In 1932, he was hired at $500/novel by Henry Ralston of Street and Smith Publications to write Doc Savage, which he continued to do until 1949. Dent did much personal research for his stories and earned his amateur radio and pilot's licences, passed the electricians and plumbers' trade exams, and was an avid mountain climber and boater. He died in La Plata, Missouri in 1959.

Publisher's Web Site: Heliograph Inc.
Biography: 1, 2, 3
Master plot, for any 6000 word pulp story by Lester Dent.

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

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From the acid-crumbled pages of early depression era pulps comes, count 'em, not one, not two, but five pulp tales of dirigibles by the creator of the pulp icon Doc Savage. If you're looking for plausibility, subtlety, or deep insights into the human condition, you've come to the wrong place. This is pulp fiction, action for the sake of action, swell young dames mostly present to be saved by brawny pistol-in-the-fist heroes, and the usual complement of nefarious and sadistic villains of various non-Anglo-Saxon ethnicities. The texts obtained from vintage pulps, have been further restored from original manuscripts. The texts have not been bowdlerized and thus still contain various ethnic slurs, and a depiction of women that certainly isn't currently PC -- but clearly was in 1930. However, compared to some material from this era, these stories are fairly inoffensive.

Packed with air pirates, cannibals, Baron Von Richtoffen-inspired enemy Zeppelin captains, and -- of course -- dirigibles, the stories are ultimately quite entertaining, if perhaps without the staying power of Dent's later creation, or more literate adventure fiction (e.g. Harlod Lamb or Talbot Mundy).

This nicely presented book includes a short introduction to Lester Dent (by Dent authority Will Murray), particularly with respect to Dent's early pre-Doc Savage pulp writing days, the short popularity of dirigible tales, and the research which Dent put into his writing (also shown by the inclusion of his notes on airships). The book also includes original illustrations from the pulps, and Dent's notes as to the publication of the stories.

All in all, Zeppelin Tales is a tasty treat for the vintage pulp aficionado, and a quick entertaining read for the reader in search of page-turning entertainment.

Title Author Original Title Original Publication
Introduction Will Murray    
"Zeppelin Bait" Lester Dent   Sky Birds, Oct. 1932
"Blackbeard's Spectre" Lester Dent "The Thirteen Million Dollar Robbery" The Popular Magazine, Mar. 1930
"Peril's Domain" Lester Dent "The Frozen Flight" Air Stories, Feb. 1931
"Helene Was A Cannibal" Lester Dent "Teeth of Revenge" Scotland Yard, May 1931
"A Billion Gold!" Lester Dent "One Billion-Gold!" Scotland Yard, June 1931
Manuscript vs. Magazine Matthew Goodman    
Lester Dent's Airship Notes Lester Dent   from manuscript
Dent's Publication Notes Lester Dent   from manuscript
Glossary      

Copyright © 2006 Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.


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